350,000 Years from Fire to Splitting the Atom


We’ve been using fire a long time, but exactly how long has remained a mystery — until maybe now:

A group of archeologists studying artifacts from an ancient cave, however, claims to have figured out when humans learned to master fire. For their study published in the journal Science on Oct. 19, Ron Shimelmitz, from the Zinman Institute of Archaeology of the University of Haifa in Israel, and colleagues examined artifact, most of which were flint tools and debris excavated from Israel’s Tabun Cave.

The archeological site, which was declared as having universal value by UNESCO two years ago, documents half a million years of human history and provided the researchers with the opportunity to study how the use of fire evolved in the cave.

By examining the cave’s sediment layers, the researchers found that most of the flints were not burned in layers that were older than 350,000 years old. Burned-up flints, however, started to show up more regularly after this with most of the flints characterized by cracking, red or black coloration, and small round depressions where fragments called pot lids flaked off the stone, indicating exposure to fire.

The researchers said that since wildfires rarely occur in caves, ancestral humans likely had something to do with the burning of the flints.


Fire allowed us to leave the caves, and eventually to reach the moon. Today our leadership restricts our access to energy, or causes prices to “necessarily skyrocket,” out of contempt for that progress.

And they call themselves “Progressives.”


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